Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Toddler Fall Wardrobe: Skirts and Tights

I don't know what it is about me and fall? Apparently it makes me clean and organize my house and it also makes me sew stuff. Specifically clothes for my youngest daughter. Like her whole wardrobe. Cause I'm crazy. 

So I'll introduce you to her wardrobe:


First I went to Target and bought 4 cheap long-sleeved t-shirts. Then off to Jo-anns I went, coupons in hand! I found four coordinating fabrics to match each shirt and whipped up new four skirts!


I love toddler skirts, and just skirts in general. But there is no way in h-e-double-hockeysticks that I am paying $17 for a silly skirt that my daughter will outgrow in 6 months. That'd be crazy! But I also want her to look cute. Sewing might not always be *the* cheapest way to get clothes, probably shopping at the thrift store exclusively would be the cheapest but our thrift store has terrible selection and I just want cuter clothes than I can usually find there. Sewing fills in that gap between what I want (name brand, cute toddler clothes) and the budget I have (um, since my husband is unemployed....very little).

I mentioned the clothes before so I won't babble on and on about them. I just wanted to share the pics of all the outfits in action. (Be Warned: squirmy toddler = blurry photos, so sorry!)

First up, the purple modern outfit!


Second, the classic cream and pink combo!


Third, the fun sparkly silver and coral and purplish gray combo! 


Lastly, the yellow polka dots and lacey cream shirt combo!A definite win with the super-yellow blonde hair :)


I also found tights to go with each outfit. Tahlia is comfy and warm and can move freely but also happens to look super cute. Win-Win!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Autumn Home Things



When Kyle was searching for a new pastoral call back when we lived in West Virginia we had the luxury of job-hunting with stable, if unpleasant, employment for the foreseeable future. So we really talked about what we wanted and what we didn't want. We knew we'd be moving out of West Virginia, that was a given. And the first thing we both agreed upon was that we would not consider moving anywhere without four real seasons. None of this Summer, Summer, Summer, Monsoon! from Arizona. Or Almost-Winter, Winter, Not Quite Winter, and Construction of Minnesota (actually Minnesota wasn't too bad but still, a 5 month Winter was just a bit much. No, we wanted a snowy winter, flowery spring, warm summer, and a cool autumn with real leaves turning colors and falling from the trees. 


And we totally found that! Now, no place beats New Hampshire/Vermont for Autumn weather and color, but Pennsylvania holds its own for sure! We're already able to leave the windows open for a cool breeze all day and night and I've got the fall decorations out. Life is good. 



I keep the same wreath most of the year, it's a plain twiggy sort of leaf and I just wrap it with leaves or flowers as suits the season. This year I cut the head off a fake sunflower and hot glued it to a pin which can be clipped or unclipped from the wreath. I think it spruces it up a good bit.


Kyle picked up some mums, and our front porch is officially ready to go for Autumn!



I also picked up these adorable little owl salt and pepper shakers at Target. Aren't they adorable? There were navy blue ones too which I adored but just wouldn't match my kitchen and I love the look of cream/white against our dark green countertops and wood trim. Yes, I have green laminate counters and oak trim and I actually kinda love them :)


Of course the fall candles came out as well.


And then the apple crisp and vanilla frozen yogurt! I LOVE apple crisp, it is heaven in my oven, totally magical.

And, perhaps because I'm motivated and perhaps because it's only eaten a couple times a year, I actually cook this one! Yep, I measure stuff and toss it in bowls and grease a pan and use the oven! Craziness! (for new readers: I hate cooking, I'm bad at it, I just don't do it....I can throw together a mean sandwich or salad but that's about it).

Here's the recipe I use. It's a combo of a couple different recipes.

Apple Crisp

12-14 apples
1 cup sugar
4tsp cinnamon
1.5 cup flour
1/3 cup oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Peel and cut apples
2. Place apples in a greased 9x13in glass pan
3. Combine sugar and cinnamon, stirring well
4. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the apples
5. Combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla, mixing with a spoon until a crumble mixture is formed and all ingredients are well-blended. Add flour as needed to make it crumbly if it's not crumbly enough at first.
6. Spread this mixture over the sugared apples.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the topping is a golden brown.

Cool and serve with ice cream or other frozen treat of your choice!
(~14 servings)

Add a little Gilmore Girls, soccer, sweaters, scarves, argyle socks, riding boots, and hot chocolate and that's how we do Autumn!


Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes: A Birthday, a Camera, Chickens, and Planners

-1-

September 1st was Kyle's 31st Birthday!

*somebody moved too fast and made a funny face when I tried to get the obligatory "blowing out the candles" picture so we had to stage it....and I got another more sarcastic funny face. Sigh!


Ah, that's better! A real picture, though not of blowing out the candles. 




-2-

I made the traditional angel food cake for his birthday, this time with chocolate sprinkles added to the glaze...a suggestion made by Peter that actually turned out delicious! The cake was enjoyed by all of course.







-3-

For his birthday I got Kyle an OlloClip for his phone camera. 


It's pretty neat, it makes your iPhone photos look much better and allows for customizing the shot a bit more. Kyle's always been into photography but we can't afford a fancy camera like a lot of people have nowadays so most of our photos are taken with just our iPhones or our small digital camera. The Olloclip also allows for very close shots and very wide shots. Kyle's looking into starting real estate classes to be a real estate agent and if he does that I figured it would be good for him to have a decent quality camera lens that allows him to get a wide shot of rooms. One of our big pet peeves is that here in our town nobody takes decent pictures of their homes to sell them! It's nuts, they take 1-2 pics, dim, blurry, and full of the previous owner's clutter, and slap it on Zillow and then are shocked when their house takes a year to sell. 

So hopefully Kyle can do better than that :)

He's also having fun just taking pictures around the house. 




-4-

And even the chickens got some head shots. The closest Maran hen is Splash, the black Maran is Raven, and the three Leghorns are Felicity, Ruby, and Gabriela. See the evil eye Splash is giving? Isn't she frightening?! lol! That's her "yes, I will cluck at 6am and wake you but you won't do anything about it because I can totally peck your face out" expression. Except she really is very nice, she just doesn't look it. And she does rule the roost, all the other hens do what she says so they must think she's intimidating looking too. 


I like this one, a very classic Leghorn pose:


-5-

And just for fun, here's Tahlia petting one of the Leghorns. She loves the chickens, she always wants to hold them but they don't let her. Peter can pick them up though and he'll carry them around the yard. Our Leghorns are so docile, I love them, I still think of them as our baby chickies :)



-6-

So Kyle is now 31, totally crazy. He filled out a Facebook quiz earlier and of course I *had* to tease him about how he is in the 31-40 age range and I'm still in the 21-30 range, haha!

He's still mostly unemployed since he resigned from his job as pastor of a Lutheran church in August.  However, he was offered a job as an adjunct professor at St. Francis University nearby! We're excited about that! He'll be teaching two classes of a Sociology/Religion combo class called Franciscan Goals for Today starting in the Spring semester. It's the perfect class for him to teach really, combining all of his interests and experience. However, it is only very part-time and so he still needs a full-time position by January when the severance pay ends. That's why he's pursuing his real estate license on top of applying to other local full-time jobs. We really don't want to move again so we're doing everything in our power to stay. Real estate would pay the bills and be a job he'd enjoy and could work as little or as much as he needs to bring in enough to support our family. It would also allow Kyle to be flexible with his class schedule at the college and continue working into full-time teaching at the college level. Eventually he ought to go back and get his doctorate to get a proper tenure track position, we just have to figure out how to make that happen financially and logistically. 

He's also applying to local jobs as chaplain, social worker, and other jobs working for non-profits mostly in marketing and fundraising. We're praying something comes through soon!

-7-

Btw, the 2015 Catholic Planner is coming along nicely! I'm finished with the scripture passages (finally! That is some good but tedious work!) and all the basic stuff. I've just been working on adding in the articles and tweaking them. And along those lines because of the delay I'm now in need of 1-2 articles for the planner, just short 1-page kinda deals, on Catholic Life (I have several available topic suggestions). If anyone is interested in getting a free copy of the planner (ya know, when it's finished next decade) and having some free advertising for their own blog, ebook, or etsy projects shoot me an e-mail!  imagine.more (at) yahoo.com

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Look What We Found!

On Sunday after church we found this cute guy on our parsley plants outside!


He's very brightly colored and we wondered what sort of caterpillar he was. I knew I'd seen caterpillars like him before in New Hampshire (where I grew up until age 9) so I first googled Monarch caterpillars and then Swallowtail. It turns out he's a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar. And yes, "he" is a male :)  The males have yellow spots and the females have blue. 


Being homeschoolers, of course we had to turn our little caterpillar friend into a science lesson. Or several :) It's like a compulsion...we see something interesting and we turn it into a unit study. Haha!


So into the old plastic fish tank he went, along with a couple sturdy sticks and a handful of the parsley he had been sitting on. By day 2 he was munching away on parsley all day long. He reminded me of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, just devouring the herb. He decimated two stalks before nightfall.

On day 3 he slowed down considerably. We weren't sure if it was from the cold or because he was ready to make a chrysalis. But Tobias wrote down his observations so we could keep track of the caterpillar's growth and progress.


Here's Tobias's observations on the caterpillar, and his drawing. Those parsley leaves were painstakingly drawn :)


Today, day 4, this very hungry caterpillar had made his laps around the container and selected a good spot to set up camp. He's in the classic pre-chrysalis position, curved along the bottom of the stick and seemingly hanging on by his mouth. Except when I got a really close up shot with my camera I saw a thin thread of silk holding him up like a sling. Kinda cool! I expect we'll see some serious chrysalis-building action in the next couple days and then a whole lot of nothing until the big day. I still haven't ascertained if the chrysalis stage will last 3 weeks or the entire winter, I'm seeing that there's quite a range and it all depends on the weather. Warmer weather = shorter chrysalis stay.


Here's Tobias' observations of the caterpillar today.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 2014 Family Updates

Just some random pictures and thoughts from our month so far. It's been a beautiful September, it only took a few days into the month for cool Autumn weather to show up and allow us to open all the windows again and enjoy the wonderful breeze in the house. I love how our house has nice, big windows on all sides and since we live on a hill we really do get quite the wind up here. Not so good for our poor grill which was constantly falling off our porch last year but definitely good for keeping that perfect fall temperature all day long inside the house.

Our white leghorns that we got this spring began laying a few weeks ago right on time! They're about 5 months now, exactly the age all the books told us they'd begin laying. And they began with a bang to be sure! One day I heard the tell-tale egg call and when I went out, expecting Splash (aka Cluckie) to be the one making the racket, but it seemed like one of the leghorns had been calling, not Splash. I peeked in the nesting boxes and found a peach-colored egg. I wasn't sure at first if it was just a lighter one of Splash's (Raven lays chocolate colored eggs) because supposedly white leghorns lay white eggs. Well, apparently ours are crossed breeds because the next day Kyle checked the coop and discovered this treasure!


FIVE eggs, all seemingly from the white leghorns! They're beautiful, and yummy :)

Oddly the white leghorns laying seems to have triggered Splash and Raven, who were steady 5x a week layers, to stop laying. We're not sure why but Raven's only laid once since the leghorns began and Splash only a handful of times. I'd blame age but I don't think that alone would cause such a sharp drop. I'd also blame too few nesting boxes (we have 2) but all the leghorns lay in the same box, no matter whether other eggs are already there, so one is always empty. I'll keep updating on that situation.


Inside the house Tahlia is now 21 months old! I still can't believe that. She's so big, a true toddler, though of course compared to other toddlers she's very petite. At her 18 month appointment the pediatrician wanted to check on her physical and speech development because she cannot go down stairs even with assistance (which I think is really quite normal) and she only has 8 words and only 2 clear ones (Mama and Daddy). Her speech was mildly concerning to me so I agreed to have early intervention come out and assess her development. It turns out she is doing fine in every area except expressive speech. Because her receptive speech is perfectly normal she did not qualify for services by just a few points. Her expressive speech was in roughly the 20th percentile. 

Our plan is simply to keep encouraging her to use the words she does have and work on teaching her new ones. If she doesn't have 10-15 words and isn't stringing words into 2-word phrases by 24 months we are supposed to check back in with early intervention because she would then definitely qualify for services. We'll see. I bet she'll have a language explosion soon. 


As you can see she really likes books nowadays. With big sis off at school during the day she's a lot more free to just sit and read uninterrupted, which is good for her attention span. I think she is the boldest and least attentive of my three birth children at this age. However she's also very gentle and nurturing, carrying baby dolls around constantly and kissing their faces and brushing their bald heads.


Peter is becoming quite talkative lately. Like Tahlia, he was a bit slow to get started on talking and has always been the strong silent type (unless upset, in which case he screams quite effectively) but the 4 year old chattiness is emerging. He turns 4 in just two months now! I'll miss my little 3 year old Peter, 4 just seems so big! 

One of the ways his chattiness began was when we moved him to the middle seat in the minivan and Ana to the back. All of a sudden our formerly silent, easygoing car rider is talking our ears off! I think it's a combination of being able to see more of the road and being close enough for us to hear him and him to hear us. 

Peter is also finally kicking in with some phonemic awareness! He's never been able to remember his letter sounds or identify the beginning sounds in words or rhymes but he's very slowly grasping it. I've been using a few Orton-Gillingham tricks on him and it seems to help. He may or may not be dyslexic but even if he's not he's at least very right brained so the multi sensory and systematic method can't hurt. He now says "a-pple, a-pple, a, a, a" and "e-ddy, e-ddy, e, e, e" and can even write the letters pretty well!



The first week of August I spotted something interesting in Tobias' mouth. He had apparently grown a whole new tooth without us noticing! We hadn't been looking though because, um, he hadn't lost any teeth yet! In fact, only one had been very slightly loose that summer. And the new tooth is not behind the loose one. I'm pretty familiar with this because it happened with most of my teeth to varying degrees. And I had braces because of it unfortunately, so I'm praying we can prevent too much trouble from it for Tobias. The phenomenon is called "Shark Teeth" because sharks have rows of teeth too. Tobias thought that was pretty cool :)


When I was dropping Ana off at school on her first day, August 25th, Tobias showed me that he had lost his tooth! We think he ate it during breakfast accidentally so there was no actual tooth to do anything with. Without a tooth I wasn't sure how the whole tooth fairy thing worked and Tobias doesn't know about the tooth fairy so we just sort of dropped the ball on that one, haha! I guess the tooth fairy will only give money for found teeth here? I dunno. Tobias had already had a second tooth coming in behind the one that fell out, and the original shark tooth is still there with the baby tooth firmly planted in front of it and barely loose. 


Just before school started we had Ana's big sister here for the weekend so the girls could spend some time together. They get along very well in small doses, especially as Ana gets more secure in our household. And we found out that her sister has a new foster family that might adopt her!! This is fantastic news! Teens in the foster care system are quick to be labeled with diagnoses and slow to be adopted. Most simply age out at 18 and end up homeless and involved in drugs or alcohol. Ana's big sister is a sweet, ambitious girl and we're praying her new foster home works out well for her.

During the weekend I took the girls to a local pottery painting place and they made teddy bears and I made an owl for Tahlia. It was a lot of fun and we're excited to drop off Ana's sister's teddy bear at our next visit, which needs to be soon before she moves again!

Ana was distracted from her sister leaving by school starting and that has gone better than we could ever have hoped. It's not perfect and I pray every week that the school doesn't decide Ana is too needy and that they can't meet her needs. But so far they have consistently chosen to get her more help and more support and commit to being the best place for her to be. I love the family-friendly atmosphere there and the teachers who take a personal interest in our daughter. Ana is enjoying school and I'm enjoying my educational duties being scaled back to 30 minute Orton-Gillingham tutoring in the afternoons and a story at bedtime. We just finished Samantha's Christmas Wish, Meet Josephina, and tonight we started The Babysitter's Club.

Ana's adoption petition has been turned in and we are only awaiting a court date! We would appreciate any prayers for a fast process. It could be any day now!

I hope the start of fall has been as positive for everyone else. I've been wishing I had more of a steady record of our family lately, especially of all those milestones of the kids, and so I'd like to try doing these family updates periodically.  Life moves awfully fast with four kids and I don't want to forget any of it years from now!

DIY Closet Organization

You know how when you move into a bigger or newer house for the first time and it seems like there is so much space you could never fill it? Well that's definitely how we felt here. Our house seemed huge and new and perfect! And it still is. Yet somehow certain places have managed to fill up over the years.

Like our master bedroom closet. Which looked like this a couple weeks ago:



Yeah....kinda cluttered. 

It really wasn't awful but there were lots of little things bugging me. 

- we didn't have space for all our clothes to fit on the rod
- the blankets were just tossed on the floor usually
- there were shirts and robes on our accessories hooks, blocking access to the scarves those hooks were intended for
- shoes were in a tiny hanging shoe organizer but my boots and DH's sneakers didn't fit
- somehow a bunch of clothes to be donated had snuck their way in here and started taking up a whole corner. 
- it felt claustrophobic in there
- it looked cluttered and messy even when it was "clean"

We did some measuring and figured out that if we simply had two rods along the back wall we'd increase our hanging space by about 15 inches. But we'd definitely need to move the top bar higher to accommodate two levels of clothes hanging there. And our current bar was an L-shaped wire shelf that was put in by the builders so that wouldn't work. Luckily our coat closet had a wire shelf almost the perfect size, it just needed to be trimmed a couple inches, and we needed to replace that eventually anyway because we were planning to put 2 shelves in the front closet instead of one and the brackets didn't leave room for a second shelf. We're switching to wood shelves there, painted white.

So we had the stolen shelf from the coat closet and then we bought another one at Home Depot which was under $15 though I can't remember the exact price. 

First I had to move EVERYTHING out of the closet, which created a crazy mess in our bedroom! The kids enjoyed it though, they thought the pile of clothes was a new jungle gym we'd made just for them. Aren't we such fun parents? Until we made them get out. Not fun parents at all I guess.

Then Kyle removed the big L-shaped wire shelf and patched up the holes. We debated painting the closet at this point but we don't have any good paint color for this big a room lying around so we skipped over that idea. 

After cutting the top shelf to size Kyle installed both of the straight shelves. We measured the top so it would be short enough for us to reach and so that our suitcases could fit on top without knocking the light.

Then I started filling it up!


Much better! But we had more plans. See, now we had that big corner with no storage and things to store. Our plan was to put in some shelves for the blankets and jeans and some shoes. We debated building something ourselves but figured we should price stock shelving at Target/Wal-mart first. So we did and came home with a $30 shelf taller than I am, perfect! Really, it may not be as deep as we'd ideally like but for the price and set-up time it was clearly a winner and the 12 inch depth actually has an advantage in making the closet feel more open and less cluttered when you walk in.

Kyle put the shelf together with help from Peter and supervision from the cats and anchored it to the wall since it is very tall and will be pretty heavy when full.

The shelf had 5 shelves but we had another of these shelves that had broken in our last move in Kyle's workshop. I guess $30 shelves aren't built to move around a lot, oops! So we pilfered a shelf from the broken one and added it to the closet so now we have 6 shelves, which allows for a nice little shoe rack on the shelf.

So this is how our closet looks now:


A close up of the shelves.


See, room for both suitcases up top and two clothing rods! This is with all of our winter clothes out of storage and hung up, and yet everything still fits.


The other storage allowed us to tidy up the accessories hooks to be just belts and scarves again. The one bathrobe there will go on a hook Kyle is planning to install on the wall beside the black shelf.


So there you have it. Apparently you don't need an expensive or elaborate closet system to organize a beige, builder-grade closet. All we did was switch to two clothing rods across the back, add a $30 shelf to the side, and utilize our coat rack hooks to store accessories on.

I did donate probably 7-8 clothing items and we removed the leftover hand-me-downs that were being stored here and gave them back to the person who sent them. Just wanted to be honest because I hate when people install a new organizational system in their closet and in their "after" pics they have mysteriously gotten rid of half of their clothing. I always think "well, no wonder it looks more organized and clean and streamlined, it's not the new shelves, it's the fact that you are storing half the amount of stuff!" Which is great, to declutter and all, but doesn't really show that any new shelves or closet system helped in and of itself.

Anyone else caught the same fall organizing bug I have? Because this is just the tip of the iceberg guys :) Fall and Spring seem to bring out the cleaning/organizing side!

Monday, September 8, 2014

School Paper Solution for Visual-Types

I wish I had 'before' pictures (I love a good before/after) but our paper clutter was well-hidden before so it might have actually looked better. But then I was completely forgetting obligations and losing track of notices and not signing my kids up for fun experiences because I just wanted to cry at the thought of keeping track of yet another series of permission forms and schedules. 

Whether it looks good or not, I like my new paper system. 

Fall always makes me want to organize like crazy so I decided to tackle the paper monster earlier this week, but with no actual plan for doing so. But here's what I ended up doing.

1. Purge

First, I purged tons! I threw out everything we did not need. Expired coupons, old notes to myself and shopping lists and papers from activities that already ended. I also got out my planner and every piece of paper that I was keeping solely to remind me of an event or appointment I jotted the information on the correct day in my planner and chucked the actual flyer. 

2. Sort

Then, I sorted things into rough categories. Just lots of piles of paper on my dining room table, it probably looked awful and it did prevent us from eating dinner at the table one night but it was necessary to lay it all out and see what I had. 

3. File

After I had all my piles I figured out which ones I already had systems for and just hadn't been using. Then of these I separated out into papers that went into systems that were working (i.e., our budget and bills accordion folder and notebook) and papers that should go into a system that was no longer working for me. My biggest clue that a system wasn't working was that there'd be a ton of papers to go into it that had instead been inexplicably piled on the counter or in a basket somewhere ;)

Got that? Three piles. No System. Working System. Needs a New System.

School papers were an example of a "Needs a New System" pile. 

My old system was a pretty standard one that I set up last year. On the back of the mudroom doors I had a 3-slot file holder and a couple cork board squares. But then I couldn't see most of the school papers and I'd forget them and they piled up so much that the file holders were full. Clearly not working. 

Did you know how many trees schools kill?? Holy cow! Ana's new Catholic school is so great and on top of things but they send home so much paper. She often comes home on Fridays bragging that *she* has no homework but *we* have a ton! Haha! 

(yes we have a fire escape route posted, but I'm not really that much of an organizing freak, it's a requirement for foster homes. Foster care licensure also requires the no-smoking sign)

4. Come up with a Plan of Action

At this point in the process I had thrown out anything that could be thrown out (though later of course I found lots more) and I had filed away everything that could be filed into a system that worked. I was left with two piles that either never had a system or needed a new one. 

Then I posted to my favorite forum looking for suggestions and then browsed Pinterest and my favorite organizing/home type blogs. I pinned tons of ideas, just collecting ideas, even the slightly crazy ones or the boring ones. 

Eventually I stumbled on one that got the gears turning in my head. 

Delightful Order's homework bulletin boards caught my eye at first. Her new and improved version was even better. But in the end I had to accept that a) I didn't want to spend the time to make something and b) it still didn't allow for enough actual paper storage to solve my school papers dilemma. 

Aqua Lane Design's kitchen command center is now a part of the dream kitchen I design in my head. Seriously. It is perfect. Tucked in the corner so it's discreet but plenty big for the purpose, and everything she included is beautiful and functional. And those clipboard chalkboard printables? Ahh! I love them! Order and Wonder guys, Order and Wonder. 

Hoosier Homemade utilized clipboards as well, but in a more functional way. I love her to-do lists for them and the double calendar too. But again, while it would be good for a checklist and calendars I needed spots for it did not solve my paper problem sufficiently. 

ModernMrsDarcy's post on planning for visual types was the one that really got me thinking. I am definitely a visual type and while I'm not in the least bit ADHD my husband kinda is and so is Ana and just having so many little people means I *feel* like I had ADHD sometimes lately, know what I mean? 

So her idea to keep everything front and center with a large bulletin board and visual calendar appealed to me. I already have a calendar near the front door along with our mail slot. But I needed the bulletin board, preferably nice and big. 

The hallway off of the kitchen was the best place for the new bulletin board area and so I measured carefully before I set off to the store to make sure it would fit in that spot. I'm finally learning to stop and measure first. I've definitely learned that lesson the hard way!

I also picked up 3 clipboards because I just loved the examples above that incorporated clipboards. I like that they sort of frame the papers and I can still change them out easily without any problem. 

So in the end I went to Target and I just got one large black-framed bulletin board for $14.99 and 3 clipboards for $1.99 each and a tiny cup that holds push pins for I think $2.99. Not bad for the difference it made I think.

5. Implement the Plan!

Here is the finished product! (ignore the mess at the end of the hall, that's another project I'll share soon). You can see where it sits perfectly near the front door and just off the kitchen but it's not visible at all from the actual entryway. I like our entryway to be a bit more suitable for public viewing since those big windows in the door afford us little privacy. 


And a close-up.


I've got a couple flyers from school, a wedding invite, weekly menu plan, volunteering checklists, and a school lunch calendar. Plus a little random picture of civil disobedience from the Life. Peace. Justice Conference I went to this past Spring. Kyle commented on it as odd but I just sort of shrugged. See, to me it fits perfectly because what we're doing here in raising our family IS an act of civil disobedience. A husband and a wife raising and educating their four children together in their home? That's downright crazy nowadays. Oh, and in the top right hand corner you can see a small black cup. That is a nifty thing I found at Target that you can push pin into the bulletin board itself and it stores the push pins (or pens or chalk or crayons or whatever) inside it right there where you need it. 


These are the clipboards. We have our daily schedule (color-coded, of course) and Ana's before and after school checklist. In the middle I snuck in a chalkboard printable because I so loved the ones I saw in the links above! But I couldn't find any Catholic ones that suited my purpose, maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough. In any case I made one.

You can download and print the Pope John Paul II Chalkboard Printable for free  HERE

So that is my way of taming some of the paper clutter around here. I'm still tweaking things, but I feel like I've made a solid start at the mountain. The bulletin board has only been up for a few days and already I love it! Ana came home from school with more paperwork and it was no big deal. I just dealt with the ones I could and put the ones with later due dates on the board.

What do you think? How do you keep up with all the paperwork that comes into the home? Is anyone else a total visual type like me that *needs* everything visible or it'll be forgotten?